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Ryan Giggs' Approach Can Help Tom Cleverley Rediscover Form at Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 25:  Tom Cleverley of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford on March 25, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentApril 26, 2014

Every Manchester United fan will have their own moment that, for them, symbolised David Moyes' time in charge.

For some it will be the humiliating defeats to Liverpool and then Manchester City at Old Trafford. For others it might be protest plane that flew over Old Trafford or the ill-fated "Chosen One" banner.

But there are few players who characterised Moyes' reign like Tom Cleverley. The England midfielder's form seemed to collapse just as the team's did.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05:  Tom Cleverley of Manchester United grabs the shirt of Wilfried Bony of Swansea City during the FA Cup with Budweiser Third round match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on January 5, 2014 in Manc
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

He came to symbolise Moyes' cautious approach. The 24-year-old has been accused of lacking the attacking intent traditionally associated with United. Of always looking sideways rather than forward. The same was true of Moyes.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Ryan Giggs of Great Britain looks on with Tom Cleverley during the Men's Football first round Group A Match of the London 2012 Olympic Games between Great Britain and Senegal, at Old Trafford on July 26, 2012 in Manchester,
Michael Regan/Getty Images

He's unlikely to admit it publicly, but Cleverley would be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief when he heard the news of Moyes' departure on Tuesday morning. Instead, he now has a manager who has built a career on attacking. 

As soon as Ryan Giggs—who was part of Team GB with Cleverley at the 2012 London Olympics—was named as United's temporary boss, the news channels were filled with clips of him running at defenders, usually playing for the likes of Tottenham or Arsenal, with pace and skill.

It's something Giggs told reporters he wants to see from his players now he's in charge.

I want to see goals, tackles, players taking players on and getting the crowd up. I want the passion that should come with being a Manchester United player.

I want players to play with passion, speed, tempo and be brave with imagination, all the things that are expected of a Manchester United player. 

To work hard but, most of all, enjoy it. As a player I know if I'm enjoying the game I can express myself a lot more and that's what I'll be doing with the team.

At times this season Cleverley has looked paralysed by fear. Fear of doing something wrong rather than having the ambition to do it right.

Moyes was always keen for his midfielders to stay behind the ball. It was an instruction that appeared to curb Cleverley's natural instinct to go forward.

But if Giggs' press conference on Friday is anything to go by, the new manager will at least give his players the freedom to be themselves again.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 22:  (L-R) Tom Cleverley, David Moyes manager of Manchester United and coach Phil Neville arrive at the stadium before the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Cleverley might have turned into something of a figure of fun this season. But he wasn't when he first broke into the first team.

On as a second-half substitute against Manchester City in the 2011 Community Shield, he was direct and dangerous. That day at Wembley, he helped United fight back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

It was the performance that persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson that Cleverley belonged in United's squad. It's something he will hope he can recapture now he's under the right guidance.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 22:  Ryan Giggs of Manchester United comes on for team mate Tom Cleverley during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on August 22, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Ph
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Cleverley is not a bad footballer. But it's true that he hasn't played particularly well this season.

He now has the benefit of a manager who has promised to encourage his players to express themselves. To trust them to do what they're good at. It's now up to Cleverley to remind us all of exactly what that is.

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